The Black Freedom Movement as Cultural Context: Moving From Passion to Action in Obtaining Optimal Health 2014

Min. Tukufu Kalonji, MSHS
June 2014

In the context of the ongoing Black Freedom Movement; i.e. the Civil Rights and Black Power movements; emphasis on liberation permeates a multiplicity of areas of human life and it’s flourishing. The status of the Black community’s health is not exclusive of this focus. In examination of health disparities of Black men through a public health and community psychology lens, it is argued here the health disparities Black men specifically, Black people in general, and the need for bringing Black folks to optimal health is clearly a project of advocacy, leadership, and social change.

As the Community Health Advocate for the Men’s Health Project of San Diego Black Health Associates henceforth referred to as SDBHA, my central tasks is to educate, organize, and mobilize, Afro American men, their families in the transformation of themselves and the community in general via the rescuing  and restoration of their health to a status of Optimal Health. The specific diseases and behavior focused upon by SDBHA are: (1) Obesity, High (2) Blood Pressure, (3) Diabetes, (4) Prostate Cancer, (5) HIV/AIDS, (6) Erectile dysfunction, (&) Stroke, and (7) Tobacco Cessation. In doing so I am responsible for teaching and counseling constituents on the concept and practice of NERDS, i.e. Nutrition, Exercise, Rest, Detoxification, and Stress Management.

Utilizing the Black Freedom Movement, as a model to establishes a culturally grounded framework to define, develop, and defend our health interests.  Consequently, creating a cultural context for asserting the project goals and objectives of necessity is inclusive of garnering community member’s involvement; thus like the Civil Rights and Black Power Movement’s; building a grassroots effort resulting in community and personal empowerment whereby community members take control of their destiny and daily lives is seeking optimal health. Moreover, application of an Afrocentric cultural framework for research, and practice of preventive and intervention strategies for Afro-Americans’ has its benefits for Black people as service providers and recipients of services to foster their personal, and communitarian growth and development.

In order to accomplish this task SDBHA, as an organization must possess a value based and value driven passion to bring good health into being. However, we know that passion, which is an intense desire or enthusiasm for something to occur, is not enough. In the final analysis, it is action that brings ideas into a definitive reality. Given that we (SDBHA) engages our constituents in an empowering process which is action oriented.  The action items are (1) ongoing education via community forums and smaller educational settings, (2) sponsoring ad co-sponsoring health oriented activities involving onsite exercise programs, structured walking programs, and recreating these in various locations throughout the community, (3)  working in collaboration with local churches and barbershops in increasing health literacy, and (4) constant  encouraging the community to take control of its destiny and daily life with regards to its health and well-being. The work SDBHA is doing is a monumental task and no matter how big the burden it must be accomplished in the interest of life and longevity of Black peoples in San Diego.

Min. Tukufu Kalonji is Founder of Kawaida African Ministries,

For info contact @ tkalonji@hotmail.com

Honoring the Heritage of Dr. King: Emulating a Model of Moral Magnitude in achieving Optimal Health

by Min. Tukufu Kalonji

Within the unique, awesome, extensive and special narrative of Afro American history there is an expansive list of saints, saviors, prophets, practitioners, and servant leaders of the good. Both men and women who struggled to bring into being a truly just and moral society.

These men and women; teachers of the good; and messengers of moral magnitude, walked righteously in worthiness in the world before history, humanity, and heaven, sought to build what the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King constructs as the Beloved Community; by speaking truth, doing justice, by way of serving God through serving the people! The Most Honorable Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King is without a doubt, such a person; and this month of January, we honor him and celebrate his ethical life of service, struggle, and achievement as our ancestor servant leader. His death as does his life provides us very useful lessons on how we are to see ourselves today as the struggle for justice continues in and on all fronts. It is as articulated by another ancestor soldier for rightness and good in the world, Paul Robeson who, in a speech declared “The battlefront is everywhere, there is no sheltered rear.”

Therefore, with the battle front everywhere with no sheltered rears then let us review and revere Kings legacy in the context of striving toward excellence in struggle to reach Optimal Health. For clarity the operational definition of optimal health here is the practice of NERDS, i.e., Nutrition, Exercise, Rest, Detoxification, and Stress Management. Moreover, for clarity we use the modifier of Proper to emphasize high quality or excellent before each of the categorical areas, thus Proper nutrition, exercise, rest, detoxification and stress management. Consequently in gaining greater insight as to how we see ourselves, this also implies a greater understanding of ourselves and finally as how we assert ourselves in the world. And in the struggle for optimal health, Rev. King’s legacy and lessons is as relevant to our wellbeing and development as it is in any other area of our thought and activity.

Rev. King’s legacy is a continued lesson on seeing the value of our life and all human life as sacred. Sacred here means human life is special and not to be violated under any rationale for oppression and barbarism for humans are by virtue of the creators, the ancestors, and the universe, dignity bearing divine beings. The Americas as a country has yet to learn this lesson as we continue to see the onslaught of racism, class exploitation, sexism, materialism and military imperialism in its varied and sundry forms. For example, the ill gotten immoral wars in the world; which America either initiates, supports or both. The ongoing misappropriation of wealth and power by the ruling race and class; and of focus in this commentary, the insidious policy, programs, and practices of the Unholy Alliance of the Food Industry, the disease Management Industry, Pharmaceutical companies and their assorted cohorts in crime such as the American Medical Association, American Cancer Society, the Food and drug Administration, American Heart Association etc.

In Rev. Kings philosophical stance he deemed us, Black people as the moral vanguard whose social circumstances, pain, and intense spiritual grounding, positions us for a mission of liberation that is divinely inspired, manifested in our thought and action building a liberation movement, with anticipated ramifications of peace, freedom, and an abundance of goodness for all at the end of our days of struggle. There is no where today where Rev. Kings model of moral magnitude could be more needed than engaging the struggle to obtain optimal health as a people.

As I have articulated elsewhere; “Afro Americans, have the highest disparity rates of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, prostate cancer, stroke, heart attacks and related diseases; and San Diego is not exempt from this atrocity as evidenced by County of San Diego, (2013)’s Health Status of Black Residents in San Diego County, (in Critical Issues in the Struggle for Optimal Health; Kalonji, Dec, 2013).” The battle for optimal health will of necessity include efforts in the political, economic, and social realm of human thought and activity. Moreover, like the overall liberation movement, it is both communitarian and personal; and the focal point of this article is primarily in the interest of personal/communitarian development. There are four points of Rev. Kings, philosophy, practice and model of moral magnitude addressed here.

They are his position on Self Help, Revolution, and Activism & Achievement. On Self Help, Rev. King writes us in his seminal text Stride Toward Freedom that “Black people must come to see that there is much we can do about our plight. Whether educated or not, or stricken with poverty; these handicaps most not prevent us from seeing that we have the power to alter our fate.” In other words as I have written elsewhere in, Change begins with one person; as one person changes they affect the rest of the population. One person has the power within them to bring massive change in any circumstance through creating change within themselves. But we cannot bring well-being to others unless we have conquered that in our own life, (in A Maxim for Optimal Health; Kalonji, Dec, 2013).

Moreover, inherent in this position on Self Help is Rev. King’s contention that it “is immoral to collaborate in one’s own oppression.” One collaborates by their accepting oppression, turning a blind eye or ignoring oppression, and become evils accomplice. So a people ignoring its poor state of health and continuing to demonstrate the behavior that got them unhealthy is collaboration in one own oppression. Thus, there is as argued earlier, no reason that we as a people cannot eradicate our health crisis. Regardless of the systemic manipulation by the Unholy Alliance, if we do as the Nguzo Saba principles of Kujichagulia (Self Determination) and Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) instruct us, we no doubt will overturn our weakness and turn it into a strength, subsequently empowering ourselves to be the best of who we are as African peoples living a quality lifestyle free of disease and systemic death predicted and promoted by the established orders disease management mechanisms.

On Revolution, King contends that “indeed we are engaged in revolution, a social movement that changes people and institution; and that our hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a hostile world.” Linked to King’s position on revolution is his contention that we have the moral right and responsibility to resist wrong include disobeying the established orders and unjust laws. Thus in the context of our struggle of prevention and intervention of disease disparity and death of our community, we are obligated by history and heaven to rise up in opposition to evil and wrong doing as King states “ that when man-made law conflicts with moral reasoning, we not only have the right but also, the responsibility to resist it. Rev. King goes onto say that “justice will not come from court decision or legislation but rather form a “radical restructuring of our society”; and that is ever evident in the struggle for liberation via reaching optimal health in our community.

Lastly, Rev. King’s stance on Activism & Achievement is affirmed through his contention that “Freedom is never given to anybody, activism is necessary to achieve libration because oppression does not yield unless strong pressure is applied against it by the oppressed.” Furthermore, King argues that after one has discovered what he/she is made of and for, they should surrender all of the power of their very being to the achievement of their goals” Rev. King urged excellence in work o matter what the work might be.” Therefore I contend that without any doubt whatsoever, in order to do as Rev King rightly encourages us to do we must also adhere to the principle and practices of the Nguzo Saba principle, Nia (Purpose), which states “to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness” and part of our greatness is that our ancestors brought to the world naturopathic protocols for living long and prosperous healthy lives. Therefore we have no business playing cultural children to Europe and its descendant, buying into their profit making schemes about health and medicines and dying at unparalleled rates in comparison to other others in the process.

In the final analysis, it is up to us Black people to continue our legacy as being this country’s moral vanguard and thus let us remain steadfast and compelled to build on Rev Kings legacy and honor his heritage by assuming and infusing his positions and Practices of Self Help, Revolution, Activism & Achievement in our struggle to establish a Model of Moral Magnitude in achieving Optimal Health!

Min. Tukufu Kalonji is Founder/Kasisi of Kawaida African
Ministries. For info contact @ tkalonji@hotmail.com

The 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington: Position, Analysis, & a Rereading on the Significance of our Struggle

by Min. Tukufu Kalonji

In the midst of all the hoopla and supposed celebration of the historic 1963 March on Washington whereas Dr. M .L. King made his “I Have A Dream Speech; it is critically imperative that we (the masses) do not allow ourselves to be anesthetized by the matrix of madness inherent in the European paradigm of hegemony and hypocrisy. The primary objective of softened, oppressor sanctioned, and non-substantive versions of this and our other victories is an ongoing effort by the established order to co-op the essence of the struggle of Black peoples, other peoples of color, and all others who struggle for justice; but especially ours; as we Afro Americans stood up, and continues to remain standing up in struggle, as the moral vanguard of Amerikkka.

The established order seeks to reductively translate the monumental efforts and achievements of our collective movement to merely one man, i.e., Dr. M.L. King Jr. That clearly is a lie and a disservice to our history at large, and a gross misinterpretation of Dr. King’s specific history as a central figure and leader in the Black Freedom Movement. Dr. King while a leader and organizer was one of a number of leadership persons who contributed to this event occurring. There was James Farmer, John Lewis, Roy Wilkins, and Whitney Young. Furthermore, it was initially Bayard Rustin, who along with Anna Hedgeman, and A. Philip Randolph, that conceived, planned, and led the march.

This of course is not to strip anything away from Dr. Kings legacy, it is however to do justice in providing critical analysis of our struggle to offset the myth and madness of Eurocentric interpretation and reductive translation of our work and struggle to one man, a dream speech with no cultural or historical substance, and the co-opting of our work, study, and struggle for the established order’s own self aggrandizement. Moreover, as with anything of productiveness and achievement in an African cultural and community context, our Ujima, (Collective Work and Responsibility); that produces that which is good and beneficial to the people and indeed the world. In addition, the focus on one man rather than the movement fails to pay homage and give duly earned credit to other factions of our community such as the Black press, other organizers/organizations, and the contribution via their particular professional and communal contexts. Moreover, as Black people proven to be the moral vanguard in this country, we also recognize and respect the other people of color, and even whites of good will etc., who were and are allies in the struggle to build a truly just and moral society.

However, in spite of those who are our allies it remains a crucial fact of life that in the final analysis a people seeking justice are ultimately responsible for initiating our movement, maintaining the struggle regardless of what odds of adversity are facing us; and the people in we are charged with the responsibility of striking the final and most decisive blow in seeking justice for ourselves, our history, and the future generations yet to come.

Thus, it is critical to every fiber of our being that with this moment in history as it is with our experiencing how in referencing the election of President Obama that we don’t get sidetracked by further illusion; that illusion being the hypocrisy of a post-racialized Amerikkka. Subsequent to the posing of the lie, the established order and its puppets implicitly assert that there is no longer a need for our to continue the struggle for justice and liberation. However, it is as argued by the late great and honorable Paul Robeson, who maintained that, the “battlefront is everywhere, there is no sheltered rears”; and clearly, we must remain cognizant that we are at war with insidious savage hearts, minds, and their institutionalizing of their barbarism. Therefore, we have to remain suspect of the sanitizing myth making of our history and reject for what it is, a blatant attempt at bamboozling us and our allies, into an unconscious state of mind for the benefit of the ruling race and class.

Clearly, the fight is not over as we are daily witnesses to the continued onslaught against Black peoples and other people of color in the mis-education system, the criminal system of injustice, as with the recent Trayvon Martin / Zimmerman case. We bear witness to the rise in the structuring of poverty and unemployment throughout the wilderness of north Amerikkka, and all the other vestiges of inhumane systematic oppression.
Moreover, we see recently in local city government affairs, the oppressor relent-less efforts to character assassinate even members of their own community who choose to side with righteousness and the masses.

Yes, let it be known that the oppressor, the one percent as some call them who in their deranged state of mental masturbation see themselves as God’s chosen are really the spawn of the devil! And as they continue to wreak havoc on the society, we are compelled by history, heaven, and humanity to remain ever vigilant in our struggle for justice. This struggle clearly is inclusive of not letting our history be distorted, co-opted, and made a weak and watered down act of their own self-congratulatory meanderings.

In continuing forward in the struggle to build a truly just and moral society let us reflect and respond in innovative ways to charges given us by A. Phillip Randolph in his opening speech where he contends that;

We (Black people-emphasis mine)) are the advanced guard of a massive, moral revolution for freedom. This revolution reverberates throughout the land touching every city, every town, and every village where Black men are segregated, oppressed and exploited. The sanctity of private property takes second place to the sanctity of the human personality. It falls to us to demand new forms of social planning, to create full employment, and to put automation at the service of human needs, not at the service of profits. And so we have taken our struggle into the streets. The months and years ahead will bring new evidence of masses in motion for freedom. When we leave, it will be to carry on the civil rights revolution home with us into every nook and cranny of the land, and we shall return again and again to Washington in every growing numbers until total freedom is ours. We shall settle for nothing less, and may God grant that we may have the courage, the strength, and faith in this hour of trial by fire never to falter.

Tutashinda Katika Umoja
(Swahili for in unity we will win)

Min. Tukufu Kalonji is Founder/Kasisi of Kawaida African
Ministries. For info contact @ tkalonji@hotmail.com

The Nguzo Saba & the Moral Vision of Malcolm X: Wake Up, Clean Up and Stand Up:

by Min. Tukufu Kalonji

May 19th 1925 was the day the earth was blessed with the birth of Minister Malcolm X. Thus, the month of May is a time for us to rightly reflect upon the life and legacy of Malcolm X.

Malcolm, the fire prophet, moral teacher, a quintessential model of Black manhood was many things as an Afro American who worked, studied and struggle to build a truly just and moral society. An incisive critic of the hypocrisy that he referred to as not the American dream but rather the American nightmare was timely without question; and very much needed during his life and nonetheless remains so much needed now in these times of America’s nightmarish hypocrisy.

A hypocrisy evidenced by the crisis of continued cutbacks in education, mental and medical health care services, and other critical human service; and increasing poverty. Yet the nation’s prison industrial complex steadily grows as a major investment opportunity on the New York stock Exchange via Correctional Corporation America and the Wackenhut Corporations.

And let us not exclude the continued damage ad degradation to the environment the establish order does all for the sake of making money. The acts of oppression cited here directly affect the Black community, other communities of color and the poor as an oppressed group in general. Consequently then, during our reflection of his legacy and lessons evolving from out of his texts of lived history, let us look at the moral vision of Malcolm X.

Malcolm X taught us so many invaluable lessons on many issues. Of those lessons, Malcolm X gave us a straightforward and manageable prescription to follow that would and is efficient in every aspect of our life. It is summed up in his call for Black people to Wake Up, Clean Up, and Stand Up! In 1963, then as the national spokesperson for the Nation of Islam (NOI); in his speech titled God’s Judgment of White America (The Chickens Come Home to Roost),Malcolm X states that;

They know that The Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s divine message will make our people (1) wake up, (2) clean up, (3) stand up. They know that once The Honorable Elijah Muhammad is able to resurrect the Negro from this mental grave of ignorance, by teaching him the truth about himself and his real enemy, the Negro will then be able to see and think for himself. Once the Negro learns to think for himself, he will no longer allow the white liberal to use him as a helpless football in the white man’s crooked game of “power politics.

Thus, Malcolm X’s instruction to wake up, clean up, and stand up is a call for Afro Americans to engage in the process of becoming educated the right way, becoming morally grounded, and ethically focused in our thought, and social practice. These three precepts are culturally conceived and put forward to the masses in order for us to rescue and reconstruct ourselves as a dignity bearing people with identity, purpose, and direction.

Moreover, they are inclusive of our embracing as an idea and practice what later came to be constructed by Dr. Maulana Karenga, founder and national chair of the Organization Us, as the Three Ends Of Black Power; Self Respect, Self Determination, And Self Defense. Malcolm’s conception of wake up, clean up, and stand up he lectured on and taught in the Nation of Islam and more so after his separation from the (NOI).

Wake Up is the first step as it is essentially our call to education. In 1964 in his speech at the founding rally of the Organization of Afro-American Unity, Malcolm X contends that “Education is an important element in the struggle for human rights. It is the means to help our children and our people rediscover their identity and thereby increase their self respect.” Moreover, he maintains, “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs only to the people who prepare for it today. We must recapture our heritage and our identity if we are ever to liberate ourselves from the bonds of white supremacy. We must launch a cultural revolution to unbrainwash an entire people.” Malcolm X’s call for us to wake up is call for our becoming mentally mature! To be mentally mature is for us to become constant and continuous students, learning knowledge and building wisdom, and engaging and confronting the world in order to understand our self, society, and the world in order to assert our self into the world.

As argued by Dr. Karenga and the Organization Us a cultural revolution is critical to our liberation and must precede the political revolution. Thus, in support of the necessity of cultural revolution I also propose the necessity of cultural revolution to not only resist external oppression we face but also to struggle against and heal our community from the cultural-psychosis that so many have succumbed to within our community.

For in the final analysis, it is the waking up, being educated the right way that will lead to our continued resistance, healing ourselves, and empowering our people on a personal, communitarian and political scale. Waking up will exemplify to us and the world that we are conscious of the fact that freedom, equality, justice and dignity are central objectives for the achievement of the legitimate aspirations of the Afro Americans. Moreover, we will continue building bridges of understanding and unity.

Thus, we become conscious of our responsibility to harness the natural and human resources of our people for their total advancement in all spheres of human endeavor. Malcolm X’s lesson on clean up logically follows our educational process and is call for becoming morally mature. That is as indicated earlier becoming morally grounded, and ethically focused in our thought, and social practice. In current times and evolving from specifically out of the Afro American experience; this moral grounding start first with our embracing the most paramount set of Afrocentric values known in contemporary times, the Nguzo Saba; The Seven Principles of Black Community Development. Their author, Dr. Karenga posits them as “the moral minimum set of principles Black people need in order to rescue and reconstruct our daily life.” Thus, these seven principles, which can, and are supported and reinforced by our folks various paths of spiritual, grounding, are crucial in our reclaiming and maintaining our self-respect.

Finally, stand up is a call for once we become mentally mature, and morally mature, (waking up and cleaning up),this of necessity requires our commitment to being proactive in our defining, and defending our aspirations, interest, and achievement in every area conceivable of human thought and practice, in other words Standing Up! On the idea of our standing up, Minister Malcolm states, “Since self preservation is the first law of nature, we assert the Afro American’s right to self defense.” Self-defense in an Afrocentric cultural context is social, political, and economic. As Malcolm posits “”Basically, there are two kinds of power that count in America: economic power and political power, with social power being derived from those two. In order for the Afro-Americans to control their destiny, they must be able to control and affect the decisions, which control their destiny: economic and political power. This can only be done through organization.” Thus, the organization emphasis of Malcolm X here is interpreted as our rebuilding and maintaining a movement of liberation struggle. Some say the movement is dead, I argue differently.

In contrast, there are many who have continued to struggle in various ways. Additionally, there are newcomers picking up the baton of work, study, and struggle for a better level of human life. So in praise to the those seasoned soldiers fighting the good fight and the new troops of triumph in our struggle I say Pamoja Tutashindana (Swahili for together we will win); for as Min Malcolm so eloquently teaches, Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression, And We declare our right on this earth…to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary!”

Min. Tukufu Kalonji is Founder/Kasisi of Kawaida
African Ministries. For info contact @ tkalonji@hotmail

Black History Month II: Honoring the Dignity & Divinty of Woman in our Community

by Min. Tukufu Kalonji

Dr. Karenga (2007) contends that “Dr. Anna Julia Cooper, is a founding theorist of what we call today womanism which Kawaida philosophy defines as “thought and practice directed towards reaffirming the equal dignity and divinity of woman and securing for her the rights and capacity to live a free, full and fulfilling life.”

It is of great importance to recognize and respect the critical need and necessity of our women in the Afro American and equally in the Native American Indian community, as it is indeed to do the same throughout the world for all women. Moreover, as nature should have it we must first respect and raise up the beauty and value of our own before we pay homage to the women of others, in particular the European. Thus, while March is women’s history month we make it a special point to see this month as Black History month II with a focus on our women.

We self consciously do this because in the Black and Indian community we are know all too well the oppressor’s onslaught on our women as he has done upon our community at large in a vain attempt to dehumanize us as a people.

Nonetheless, we are not now nor never beat down; in contrast we engage the struggle to assert ourselves in community and society being the best of who we are as a people with a fervor matched only by the intense heat of the sun at mid day on the Nile valley. Furthermore, we do this unashamedly as a definitive people with a definitive history.

Thus, in this addition of Black Path Commentary, we pay homage to a woman who, like her ancestors Dr. Anna Julia Cooper and Ms. Fannie Lou Hamer, is a woman warrior of rightness and righteousness. In addition, to that end, I am referring to Ms. Acintia Wright.

Ms Wright through her steadfastness is seeking to secure for others, especially women, as well as herself; the right and capacity to live a free, full and fulfilling life in the midst of a menacing public health issue that we know all too well, however it seems to some it is not an issue anymore. It is as Dr. Karenga (2013) writes in his article Cherishing and Choosing Life: Black Ethics, Culture & HIV/AIDS in the Los Angles Sentinel, that,  “This year, like last year, we cannot help but notice and make note that HIV/AIDS is not a prominent presidential, congressional, state or locally-promoted concern although, for us as a people, it is still a deadly and disabling disease, in spite of its becoming a less urgent issue with others., (P.A-6)

In spite of the adversity of HIV/AIDS not being of the eminence that it once held when White gay men initiated the discourse, and subsequently the direction of services, funding as to who were recipients of the benefits of research etc. Ms. Acintia Wright; teacher, activist, and mother extraordinaire, maintains a clear vision and unwavering love and hope for her people while on a daily basis she engages the struggle to heal our community of the devastation of HIV and AIDS. Furthermore, Ms Wright is the Education/Testing Outreach Coordinator at San Ysidro Health Centers in San Diego, CA. She is San Diego’s representative of the Positive Women’s Network steering committee, and one of the founders of the Woman 2 Woman support group for African American women in San Diego. Additionally, Acintia is the current chair of the Faith Based Action Coalition and the chair of the San Diego Care Partnership. This past World AIDS Day Dec 1, 2012 Acintia organized and led churches and community to the streets in a prayer vigil and rally regarding the statistics of HIV positive people; and Acintia is the coordinator of the National Week of Prayer events that are held annually here in San Diego. In addition, she is acknowledged by the State of California Legislators for her community involvement in the struggle of prevention and intervention with the public health issue of HIV and AIDs.

With insight, initiative, dedication, sacrifice and achievement reminiscent of the tradition and in the spirit of Sojourner Truth, Mary McLeod Bethune, Anna Julia Cooper and Fannie Lou Hammer, Acintia is recognized locally, and internationally as well. In 2010, Acintia was awarded the Dr. Brad Truax award for her steadfastness leadership in HIV and AIDs Education and Prevention, serving as the California representative for The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. This prestigious honor is given annually to recognize the exceptional contributions made by a person involved in the struggle in healing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in our community, society, and indeed the world.

For her quintessential leadership and role in this awesome task, Ms. Wright is nominated to Dr. Shirley Weber’s Inaugural Salute to Women Leaders in the 79th District. This event will take place March 17 @ SDSU. For details, contact Lashae Collins at (619) 462-7878 in the office of Assembly member Shirley Weber. And in the final analysis, Acintia is my friend, my sister, and I am honored and humbled to be her friend and brother in the ongoing struggle in the interest of securing our community’s health and well-being.

Min. Tukufu Kalonji is Founder/Kasisi of Kawaida African Ministries. For info contact @ tkalonji@hotmail.com

Reference: Karenga, M. (2013) Cherishing and choosing life: Black ethics, culture and hiv/aids in Los Angeles Sentinel, 02-07-13, p.A-6

Black Path Commentary: The Message And Meaning Of Black History: Engaging The Black Cultural Revolution

Min. Tukufu Kalonji,
February, 2013

Afro Americans as a particular group of African people in the Diaspora are a unique, beautiful, proud, special, and productive people. We have a rich expansive history, legacy of struggle, and achievement that is equally sacred and secular that has not only contributed to our development as a people but candidly speaking; our history has served as a model for other peoples who’ve struggled for justice in America and indeed throughout the world. While it is evident that our entire history as a people in struggle is worthy of our study there is specifically three major modal periods of our history worth mentioning. The noteowrthiness of these periods is because they serve as excellent examples of what Afro Ameircans have struggled for and achieved by embracing the Black Cultural Revolution.

According to Dr. Maulana Karenga in his text, Introduction To Black Studies (3rd ed.), The term modal periods of history is defined as those “periods which defines Black life in profound and enduring ways and speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense.” Also for clarity, it is essential to provide an operational definition of history. Often time’s people see history as a collection of dates, names, and events of the past without a substantive element regarding what the people did, did not do etc.  In the context of this writing history is defined as “the struggle and record of people humanizing the world, i.e. shaping in their own image and interest” Karenga (2002). It is living memory, accented by the messages it sends us and the challenges it brings and poses for us. Put another way, history reveals itself as a multifaceted human practice directed in its diversity toward self construction, social construction, and world construction.

Afro Americans cultural legacy and history has its roots beginning in ancient times on our ancestral land which we define as the Classical Period of our history. This is where the foundations of human civilization began and evolved.  It is here in ancient Kemet (Egypt) as well as other ancient African societies where African people introduced to the world the basic disciplines, sciences, arts, and philosophy of human thought and activity.  It is ancient Egypt where Jew and gentile, i.e. non-African peoples came to broaden the horizons of their mind, (James, 1993).  Given this fact, it is imperative that we reflect upon our past in the spirit of Sankofa, which teaches us “it is not a crime to return to the source i.e. the past in order to build for now and in the future.” In fact the concept of Sankofa as it is conceived and implemented by the Akan people of western Africa encourages the utilization of our history not just as a reference; but more importantly as a resource for our continued development.  We have too rich of a legacy at our disposal with our own set of standards as to how to rectify whatever situation in our community that needs to be addressed. In spite of the after effects of oppression by the ruling race and class; Black people continuously demonstrate adaptive vitality that not only guarantees our survival but also ensures our development that is yet to come into being.

The next critical period of our collective hisotry as an African people is the Maangamizi; the Holocaust of African Enslavement. (Maangamizi is a Swahili term for Holocaust- i.e. catastrophe, annihilation, devastation, disaster etc. It is derived from the verb -angamiza which means to cause destruction, to utterly destroy). It is in this particular context where we find a multitude of examples by our fore parents in steadfast resistance to the most inhumane practices of humankind that were carried out by the spineless and immoral European enslaver. Also it is during this period where as Afro Americans built relationships as allies, family, and ultimately blended community with the indigenous people of the western hemisphere we know as Indians. In fact our history as Black Indians is an integral of African /Indian contributions to the building of America. As our collective struggle against the European invader’s oppression helped shaped the African / Indian liberation struggle of modern times. Thus, when we correctly study the Holocaust of African  Enslavement, one can learn valuable lessons of again the sacredness of our history and struggle and use those lessons to help shape our thought and actions in every facet of our lives. So instead of seeing a fictional  entertainment project titled Django; we are obligated by our history and humanity to  read the life and legacy of Nat Turner, Frederick Douglass, Denmark  Vesey,  Maria Stewart, Sojourner Truth, Yaa Asantewa; and the countless other men and women who gave their lives  to the struggle for the liberation of Black people.

Clearly this is quite a different position than the folk who say “all Black people have is a legacy of being slaves.”  It is these persons, clearly uninformed who suffer from a cultural and intellectual immaturity. These misguided people often state that “Black people are our own worst enemy.” A statement that is nothing more than an unjust indictment of us as people being pathological and pathogenic coming straight from the mind of our oppressor. Thus, accepting the oppressor’s reality as their own. Moreover, it is a statement that is morally, intellectually, and culturally wrong and is indicative of the mental illness one can develop as a result of submitting to the will of their oppressor.  This is not unfathomable as Dr. Na’im Akbar (1984) refers to what he calls the Psychological Chains and Images of Slavery and many of us reference it as symptomatic of the Willie Lynch Syndrome.  Subsequently, by embracing the lessons and legacy of our history we can effectively counter the negative effect of t Willie Lynch Syndrome

Thirdly, the last significant era of our history worthy of serious study as a guiding framework for Afro Americans today is the Reaffirmation of The 60’s. The sixties was above all, a reaffirmation of our Blackness; that is our Africaness. Also it was and remains a reaffirmation of our social justice tradition as a people who are self determined which has at its core a commitment to struggle to bring into being the good world.  It is our collective works during this era that challenged America’s established order and shaped the character of this country and as we sought to set the scales of justice in their proper place. Thus, Afro Americans have been and remain the moral vanguard of this country as it is our struggle for justice that agai8n many people model themselves after in their seeking justice.
Karenga (2002) delineates four fundamental reasons to study our history as a frame of reference and resource for current work that we must engage in. First, he states that we study our history to learn its lessons. As Malcolm X taught, “Of all our studies history is best prepared to reward our research.” Secondly, we study history to sense and absorb its spirit of human possibility. Thirdly, we study and celebrate history to extract and emulate its models of human excellence and achievement. It is Mary McLeod Bethune who taught that “We are heirs and custodians of a great legacy” and urged us to discover that legacy and to bear the burden and glory of that legacy with strength, dignity and determination. And finally Karenga contends that, we, as an African people, commemorate history in order to honor the moral obligation to remember those who paved the path down which we now walk, who gave their lives so that we could live fuller and more meaningful ones. This is the meaning of Fannie Lou Hamer’s teaching that there are two things we all “must care about: never to forget where we came from and always praise the bridges that carried us over.”

It my position that we are compelled by our people, the ancestors, and the creator  to follow the aforementioned prescription offered by Dr. Karenga for the study of our history as an ongoing developmental process to engage the Black Cultural Revolution, i.e. the Black liberation movement. This movement will lead us to participate in the Black Cultural Revolution; it is of necessity to know exactly what is meant by ‘Black Cultural Revolution.” The Black Cultural Revolution is defined by Karenga in the philosophy of Kawaida as:

the ideological and practical struggle to (1) transform the cultural context in which people live; (2) transform the people in the process, making them self conscious agent of their own liberation,(3) build the institutional base to sustain and constantly expand that transformation,.

The Black Cultural Revolution has its roots beginning with our initial struggles against the enslaver first on the varied regions of continental Africa and it carried on to wherever our people landed though out the Maagamizi.

Quintessentially, it reached a comprehensive level of conceptualization and practical development in the 1960’s. It is in this era where it became cohesive and clarified in the Black Power era of the Black Freedom Movement. Even a cursory examination of gains that Black people made during this era will reveal this fact.     Yes we have lost some of those gains through the lack of institutional capacity to maintain them. Yet as the honorable Marcus Garvey said “What humans have done, humans can do.”  Therefore we can conceive it and we can achieve it through our own self determination, will, work, study, and struggle.

In closing, I contend rather than lament on a self imposed pity pot, or go through mental masturbation either reductively translating or fantasying about our history; let us embrace our history and its rich lessons inherent in the monumental stride and indomitable spirit of Black folk seeking to build a world where we, our children, and the generations yet to come can stand and walk freely in warmer sun.

References
Akbar, N.  (1984), Psychological chains and images of slavery, New Mind Productions
Karenga, M. (2002) Introduction to black studies (3rd ed.), University Of San Kore Press, Los Angeles Ca
James, G.M. (1993), Stolen legacy: Greek philosophy is stolen egyptian philosophy: Africa World Press

Min. Tukufu Kalonji is Founder of Kawaida African Ministries,
For info contact @ tkalonji@hotmail.com

Black Path Commentary: Critical Analysis on Culure, Community, & Struggle

The Message And Meaning Of Black History: Engaging The Black Cultural Revolution

Min. Tukufu Kalonji
February 2013

Afro Americans as a particular group of African people in the Diaspora are a unique, beautiful, proud, special, and productive people. We have a rich expansive history, legacy of struggle, and achievement that is equally sacred and secular that has not only contributed to our development as a people but candidly speaking; our history has served as a model for other peoples who’ve struggled for justice in America and indeed throughout the world. While it is evident that our entire history as a people in struggle is worthy of our study there is specifically three major modal periods of our history worth mentioning. The noteowrthiness of these periods is because they serve as excellent examples of what Afro Ameircans have struggled for and achieved by embracing the Black Cultural Revolution.

According to Dr. Maulana Karenga in his text, Introduction To Black Studies (3rd ed.), The term modal periods of history is defined as those “periods which defines Black life in profound and enduring ways and speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense.” Also for clarity, it is essential to provide an operational definition of history. Often time’s people see history as a collection of dates, names, and events of the past without a substantive element regarding what the people did, did not do etc.  In the context of this writing history is defined as “the struggle and record of people humanizing the world, i.e. shaping in their own image and interest” Karenga (2002). It is living memory, accented by the messages it sends us and the challenges it brings and poses for us. Put another way, history reveals itself as a multifaceted human practice directed in its diversity toward self-construction, social construction, and world construction.

Afro Americans cultural legacy and history has its roots beginning in ancient times on our ancestral land, which we define as the Classical Period of our history. This is where the foundations of human civilization began and evolved.  It is here in ancient Kemet (Egypt) as well as other ancient African societies where African people introduced to the world the basic disciplines, sciences, arts, and philosophy of human thought and activity.  It is ancient Egypt where Jew and gentile, i.e. non-African peoples came to broaden the horizons of their mind, (James, 1993).  Given this fact, it is imperative that we reflect upon our past in the spirit of Sankofa, which teaches us “it is not a crime to return to the source i.e. the past in order to build for now and in the future.” In fact, the concept of Sankofa as it is conceived and implemented by the Akan people of western Africa encourages the utilization of our history not just as a reference; but also more importantly as a resource for our continued development.  We have too rich of a legacy at our disposal with our own set of standards as to how to rectify whatever situation in our community that needs to be addressed. In spite of the after effects of oppression by the ruling race and class, Black people continuously demonstrate adaptive vitality that not only guarantees our survival but also ensures our development that is yet to come into being.

The next critical period of our collective history as an African people is the Maangamizi, the Holocaust of African Enslavement. (Maangamizi is a Swahili term for Holocaust- i.e. catastrophe, annihilation, devastation, disaster etc. It is derived from the verb -angamiza which means to cause destruction, to utterly destroy). It is in this particular context where we find a multitude of examples by our fore parents in steadfast resistance to the most inhumane practices of humankind that were carried out by the spineless and immoral European enslaver. Also it is during this period where as Afro Americans built relationships as allies, family, and ultimately blended community with the indigenous people of the western hemisphere we know as Indians. In fact, our history as Black Indians is an integral of African /Indian contributions to the building of America. As our collective struggle against the European invader’s oppression helped shaped the African / Indian liberation struggle of modern times. Thus, when we correctly study the Holocaust of African  Enslavement, one can learn valuable lessons of again the sacredness of our history and struggle and use those lessons to help shape our thought and actions in every facet of our lives. So instead of seeing a fictional  entertainment project titled Django; we are obligated by our history and humanity to  read the life and legacy of Nat Turner, Frederick Douglass, Denmark  Vesey,  Maria Stewart, Sojourner Truth, Yaa Asantewa; and the countless other men and women who gave their lives  to the struggle for the liberation of Black people.

Clearly this is quite a different position than the folk who say “all Black people have is a legacy of being slaves.”  It is these persons, clearly uninformed who suffer from a cultural and intellectual immaturity. These misguided people often state that “Black people are our own worst enemy.” A statement that is nothing more than an unjust indictment of us as people being pathological and pathogenic coming straight from the mind of our oppressor. Thus, accepting the oppressor’s reality as their own. Moreover, it is a statement that is morally, intellectually, and culturally wrong and is indicative of the mental illness one can develop as a result of submitting to the will of their oppressor.  This is not unfathomable as Dr. Na’im Akbar (1984) refers to what he calls the Psychological Chains and Images of Slavery and many of us reference it as symptomatic of the Willie Lynch Syndrome.  Subsequently, by embracing the lessons and legacy of our history we can effectively counter the negative effect of t Willie Lynch Syndrome

Thirdly, the last significant era of our history worthy of serious study as a guiding framework for Afro Americans today is the Reaffirmation of The 60’s. The sixties was above all, a reaffirmation of our Blackness; that is our Africaness. Also it was and remains a reaffirmation of our social justice tradition as a people who are self determined which has at its core a commitment to struggle to bring into being the good world.  It is our collective works during this era that challenged America’s established order and shaped the character of this country and as we sought to set the scales of justice in their proper place. Thus, Afro Americans have been and remain the moral vanguard of this country as it is our struggle for justice that agai8n many people model themselves after in their seeking justice.

Karenga (2002) delineates four fundamental reasons to study our history as a frame of reference and resource for current work that we must engage in. First, he states that we study our history to learn its lessons. As Malcolm X taught, “Of all our studies history is best prepared to reward our research.” Secondly, we study history to sense and absorb its spirit of human possibility. Thirdly, we study and celebrate history to extract and emulate its models of human excellence and achievement. Mary McLeod Bethune taught us “We are heirs and custodians of a great legacy” and urged us to discover that legacy and to bear the burden and glory of that legacy with strength, dignity and determination. And finally Karenga contends that, we, as an African people, commemorate history in order to honor the moral obligation to remember those who paved the path down which we now walk, who gave their lives so that we could live fuller and more meaningful ones. This is the meaning of Fannie Lou Hamer’s teaching that there are two things we all “must care about: never to forget where we came from and always praise the bridges that carried us over.”

It my position that we are compelled by our people, the ancestors, and the creator  to follow the aforementioned prescription offered by Dr. Karenga for the study of our history as an ongoing developmental process to engage the Black Cultural Revolution, i.e. the Black liberation movement. This movement will lead us to participate in the Black Cultural Revolution; it is of necessity to know exactly what is meant by ‘Black Cultural Revolution.” The Black Cultural Revolution is defined by Karenga in the philosophy of Kawaida as:

the ideological and practical struggle to (1) transform the cultural context in which people live; (2) transform the people in the process, making them self conscious agent of their own liberation,(3) build the institutional base to sustain and constantly expand that transformation,.

The Black Cultural Revolution has its roots beginning with our initial struggles against the enslaver first on the varied regions of continental Africa and it carried on to wherever our people landed though out the Maagamizi. Quintessentially, it reached a comprehensive level of conceptualization and practical development in the 1960’s. It is in this era where it became cohesive and clarified in the Black Power era of the Black Freedom Movement. Even a cursory examination of gains that Black people made during this era will reveal this fact.     Yes, we have lost some of those gains through the lack of institutional capacity to maintain them. Yet as the honorable, Marcus Garvey said, “What humans have done, humans can do.”  Therefore, we can conceive it and we can achieve it through our own self-determination, will, work, study, and struggle.

In closing, I contend rather than lament on a self imposed pity pot, or go through mental masturbation either reductively translating or fantasying about our history; let us embrace our history and its rich lessons inherent in the monumental stride and indomitable spirit of Black folk seeking to build a world where we, our children, and the generations yet to come can stand and walk freely in warmer sun.

References
Akbar, N.  (1984), Psychological chains and images of slavery, New Mind Productions
Karenga, M. (2002) Introduction to black studies (3rd ed.), University Of San Kore Press, Los Angeles Ca
James, G.M. (1993), Stolen legacy: Greek philosophy is stolen egyptian philosophy: Africa World Press

Min. Tukufu Kalonji is Founder and Kasisi of Kawaida African Ministries,
 For info contact @ tkalonji@hotmail.com

The Value of Kwanzaa: A Reaffirmation of African Culture

by Min. Tukufu Kalonji

As we approach the 46th annual celebration of Kwanzaa, it is of necessity to engage in discussion on this beautiful Afro American and Pan African holiday. Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a scholar-activist who emphasizes the crucial need to protect, constantly regenerate and advance African American culture. Below is an excerpt from Dr. Karenga’s seminal works on the holiday Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community, & Culture. University of San Kore Press, Los Angeles CA.

First, Kwanzaa was created to reaffirm and restore our rootedness in African culture. Therefore for current celebrants and new celebrants; it is important to learn, reinforce, internalize, and put in practice the vision and values of Kwanzaa in the interest of reaffirming family, community, and culture in its best light. Secondly, Kwanzaa was created to serve as a regular communal celebration to reaffirm and reinforce the bonds between us as a people. It was designed to be an ingathering to strengthen community and reaffirm common identity, purpose and direction as a people and a world community. Thirdly, Kwanzaa was created to introduce and reinforce the Nguzo Saba (the Seven Principles.) These seven communitarian African values are: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self- Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). This stress on the Nguzo Saba was at the same time an emphasis on the importance of African communitarian values in general, which stress family, community and culture and speak to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense. And Kwanzaa was conceived as a fundamental and important way to introduce and reinforce these values and cultivate appreciation for them.

Additionally inherent in Kwanzaa is five fundamental activities of Continental African “first fruit” celebrations: ingathering; reverence; commemoration; recommitment; and celebration. Kwanzaa, then, is:

1. a time of ingathering of the people to reaffirm the bonds between them;
2. a time of special reverence for the creator and creation in thanks and respect for the blessings, bountifulness and beauty of creation;
3. a time for commemoration of the past in pursuit of its lessons and in honor of its models of human excellence, our ancestors;
4. a time of recommitment to our highest cultural ideals in our ongoing effort to always bring forth the best of African cultural thought and practice; and
5. a time for celebration of the Good, the good of life and of existence itself, the good of family, community and culture, the good of the awesome and the ordinary, in a word the good of the divine, natural and social.

Participating in each of these pillars are booth informational and inspirational to a peoples self concept to be the best of what it means to be African and human in the world. In closing, Kwanzaa’s value to the Black community clearly is more than an abstract celebration with no significance. Its stress on cultural grounding via its values, the Nguzo Saba, and its requirement to adhere to the five fundamental pillars/activities cited above brings us as African people closer to whom we are in history and humanity as opposed to the caricatures of African people that the white western popular culture seeks to impose upon us through hegemonic means and methods.

Moreover, while Kwanzaa is specifically an Afro American and Pan African cultural Holiday, its inherent spiritual qualities contain a value message that speaks to all peoples seeking to bring good into the world. Thus, it is as African philosophy emphasizes and that is we believe that what is good for Africans is good for other throughout humanity. Make note this does not means an abstract concept of humanness, nor does it reflect a hegemonic position such as Europe has taken its cultural arrogance to suggest that every people give up their cultural rights and responsibilities and submit to the European paradigm. Kwanzaa serves as cultural vehicle which speaks our own special cultural truth to the world as African peoples in general; and specifically as Afro Americans.

Min. Tukufu Kalonji is Founder/Kasisi of Kawaida African Ministries
For info contact @ tkalonji@hotmail.com

Black Path Commentary: Critical Analysis on Culure, Community and Struggle

by Min. Tukufu Kalonji

Welcome to Black Path Commentary. We will discuss critcal issues of community and struggle in the realm of spirituality/religion, history, political, economic, and social orgnization, creative production, and community psycholgy of self (Afro Ameircans & Afro Indian matters), society, and the world; in the context of topical issues of the day Afro Americans as a particular group of African people in the Diaspora are a unique, beautiful, proud, special, and productive people.

Tukufu KalonjiWe have a rich expansive history and legacy of struggle and achievement that is equally sacred and secular that has   only contributed to our development but, candidly speaking; our history has served as a model for other peoples who’ve struggled for justice in America and indeed throughout the world.

Furthermore indigenousness Indians of the western hemisphere faced many of the same struggles that Afro Americans did and still do. They both have faced racism and genocide at the hands of the “ruling race and class.” Afro Americans suffered horrors through the holocaust of African enslavement; Indians were run out of their own home, many were killed, and then were forced onto reservations.

We both have a definitive unique culture and as key cultural  groups had to fight constantly against the oppressor and his onslaught upon our humanity Moreover as we Africans resisted the holocaust through multifaceted forms of courage, self determination, and diligence; and escaping from the oppressor’s domain; we found refuge, friendship, and our family in a peaceful place amongst various native Indian ethnic groups in what we now call America.

Subsequently through this relationship and its developing familial context evolved the Afro Indian relationship lineage.

It seems perhaps that both of our people’s ancestors may have played a role in guiding us into each others lives as Africans and Indians blended naturally forging a bond that continues to exist and grow today. Until next time may our ancestors continue to guide us to bring good into the world.

Min. Tukufu Kalonji is Founder/Kasisi of Kawaida African Ministries, and an initiate in the M’TAM School of Kemetic Culture, for
info contact @ tkalonji@hotmail.com